Samoa highest Pacific island in climate risk index
By Cherelle Jackson
COPENHAGEN - Samoa is ranked the highest Pacific island country in the 2010 Climate Risk Index by climate and development organization Germanwatch.
Launched today in Copenhagen, Denmark at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the report lists more than 170 countries and their rankings in climate risks.
Samoa is ranked 53rd in the worldwide climate risk assessment behind India, Phillipines and China who are in the top ten.
Solomon Islands is ranked at 56th, Fiji at 63rd and Tonga with a low risk at 120.
The Index is an analysis based on reliable and available data on the impacts of extreme weather events and associated socio-economic data.
"Weather extremes are an increasing threat for lives and economic values across the world, and their impacts will likely grow larger in the future due to climate change. Our analyses show that in particular poor countries are severely affected," said Sven Harmeling, author of the Index at Germanwatch.
Despite this Pacific islands are not featured prominently in the report, with islands such as Tokelau and Tuvalu not ranked in the report.
Surprisingly Kiribati a high risk area in the Pacific according to widely published scientific reports is ranked 171 in the world.
But Germanwatch defends it's ranking saying that it only looks at one important piece in the overall, more comprehensive puzzle of climate-related impacts on socio-economic systems and, for example, does not take into account aspects such as sea-level rise or glacier melting.
"It is based on past data and is thus not a linear projection of future climate impacts, also because a single extreme event can not be traced back solely to anthropogenic climate change," says Christoph Bals, Political Director of Germanwatch.
Saleemul Huq, adaptation expert from the Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) says rankings are important to adaptation.
"The Germanwatch Climate Risk Index clearly shows the devastating impacts of extreme weather events on many poor countries, including my own. What is remarkable is that many of these countries are already taking action now to prepare for the effects of climate change; they are not just sitting back and waiting. Nevertheless the richer countries have a clear legal and moral responsibility to scale-up adaptation finance."
Change is an increasingly important factor for the occurrence and intensity of these events.
The Climate Risk Index thus indicates a level of exposure and vulnerability to extreme events which countries should see as a warning signal to prepare for more severe events in the future.